Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Quote of the Day: The World-in-Law

(The "fairy fruit" mentioned in the passage below is key in the fantasy novel these paragraphs are from, and is ultimately complex and elusive; but to understand this quote all you need do is to think of it as an illegal hallucinogenic, euphemistically referred to in legal contexts as "silk".)
"What was the Law invented for? What are you driving at, Nat? I suppose it was invented to prevent rapine, and robbery, and murder, and all that sort of thing."

"But you remember what my father said about the Law being man's substitute for fairy fruit? Fairy things are all of them supposed to be shadowy cheats -- delusion. But man can't live without delusion, so he creates for himself another form of delusion -- the world-in-law, subject to no other law but the will of man, where man juggles with facts to his heart's content, and says, 'If I choose I shall make a man old enough to be my father my son, and if I choose I shall turn fruit into silk and black into white, for this is the world I have made myself, and here I am master.' And he creates a monster to inhabit it -- the man-in-law, who is like a mechanical toy and always behaves exactly as he is expected to behave, and is no more like you and me than are the fairies."

- Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist (1926), Chapter 17

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